Medical Center Investment Shows Importance of Neonatal Nurse Practitioners

July 2017Annette Carley
Michele Foster and Carla Medina

Michele Foster (left) and Carla Medina (photos by Elisabeth Fall) In 2015, UCSF Medical Center provided a strategic financial investment that allowed the neonatal nursing specialty program to reopen at UC San Francisco School of Nursing. This investment is a win-win for both the medical center and the School, because neonatal nurse practitioners (NNPs) are an essential component of the skilled workforce needed to deliver high-quality care to neonates and infants requiring intensive care. As NNPs, we have roles as leaders, clinical experts, educators, researchers and consultants in settings that include the intensive care nursery (ICN), transport, convalescent care, outreach and neonatal follow-up.

Annette Carley Our School was long an active training site for NNPs – and a source of NNPs for UCSF Health – but the program had been on hiatus for two years. The medical center’s investment ensured a dedicated commitment to clinical training through preceptor engagement with UCSF Medical Center NNPs. That is absolutely crucial because NNP training opportunities are limited regionally and nationally due to many recent program closures.

Students here complete a rigorous curriculum with coursework supporting competency in neonatal health assessment, pharmacology, nutrition, physiology and pathophysiology essential to the care of complex ICN patients. Skill-building exercises and the completion of 600 mentored clinical practice hours at local ICNs, including UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals, supplement the challenging coursework.

In December 2016, two of us (Foster and Medina) completed this program as post-master’s students, and we are now working as NNPs in the ICN at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital San Francisco. Because we had already completed our core master’s degree coursework – and had been ICN nurses for some time – we completed an individualized post-master’s program of study to ensure we could satisfy regulatory expectations for the NNP role.

One major advantage of the program was that it allowed us to continue working while completing our education. Taking on additional courses and clinical residency hours while working was challenging, but supportive faculty at the School and dedicated clinical preceptors at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital San Francisco and other training facilities helped us fulfill our dream of working in an advanced practice role.

Thanks to the close relationship with UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital San Francisco, our transition from students to full-time NNPs was supported by many staff members who had known us during our training. Not only was it a wonderful feeling knowing that we could continue learning and growing professionally in one of the world’s finest ICNs, but we believe the medical center’s support highlights the importance of the NNP role at UCSF – and in all of health care. Programs like ours are essential if we are to continue to provide the type of outstanding care that helps very ill newborns survive and thrive.

Annette Carley is certified as a neonatal and pediatric NP, and has over 30 years of clinical experience in neonatal and pediatric care. Since 1995 she has been affiliated with the UCSF School of Nursing as a clinical faculty member and is currently specialty coordinator for the neonatal nursing specialty and associate director of the School’s Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree program.

Michele Foster came to the Acute Care Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (ACPNP) specialty program with seven years of experience in intensive care nurseries. She earned an MS degree from the School in spring 2016 and, in December 2016, completed a post-master’s program that trained her for certification as a neonatal nurse practitioner. She works as an NNP at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital San Francisco.

Carla Medina began her career at UCSF in the intensive care nursery. She earned an MS degree from the ACPNP specialty program at the School in spring 2016 and, in December 2016, completed a post-master’s program that trained her for certification as a neonatal nurse practitioner. She works as an NNP at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital San Francisco.

 

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